Runescape Bits & Bytes is a fan site that was first launched on August 6, 2004 relating to the MMORPG, Runescape. It was started by Mike and Shane who both hail from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. RSBandB was not started with the intent of providing the same generic content that was available on other fan sites in 2004.
Calculators were the very first innovation that defined RSBandB as a fan site, in fact they were one the major reason that the fan site was launched in the first place. Mike first began to code the calculators for personal use in the summer of 2004 — several months before RSBandB was released — because he was frustrated with the lack of any other decent up-to-date RuneScape calculators. Shane suggested they put them up on a fan site, along with some dynamic signatures they had both designed, although Mike admits he was initially sceptical about the idea. Shane came up with the suggestion for the name, naming it after a cafe he had visited on a school trip in down town Edmonton, The Bits and Bytes Cafe.
The forums were launched on the 9th of September 2004, with the original moderating team made up of RuneScape friends of both Mike and Shane. Due to the low profile of RSBandB back then the forums were fairly inactive, but began to gain popularity when Mike and Shane allowed RuneHQ to use their calculators in return for use of RuneHQs guides. This was a smart move as it brought RSBandB a steady trickle of users straight from RuneHQ and helped RSBandB to grow in popularity as a fan site. The RuneHQ partnership was mutually ended in late 2005 when Mike and Shane made the decision that they wanted to start developing their own RuneScape content for the site.
On June 12, 2005 RSBandB became the first major fan site to launch a RuneScape podcast when Shane and Pika released RSBANDBUpdate! Episode 1. This was well received by the RSBandB community and has since firmly established itself as the highest quality and most consistent RuneScape podcast with a listener base that spans well beyond the forum community itself.
RSBandB's popularity began to rise through 2005, the Design Crew — which had been established the previous April, the first extra curricular forum group — was attracting a different type of person to RSBandB, and soon a vibrant and active graphics sub-community had risen. Although the Design Crew eventually became redundant and died a rather dramatic death, the graphics community at RSBandB continues to flourish and the Signature of The Week competition still runs strongly.
In September of 2005, RSBandB added goal sigs, the first type of dynamic signature that allowed forum users to show what goals they were currently working towards on RuneScape and how far they had progressed. RSBandB was the first fan site to launch this kind of signature.
RSBandB added to its already extensive portfolio once more in June of 2006 when RSBandB launched its own newspaper under the guise of RSBANDBInformer!. This had been a project that had been in the planning stages for some time behind the scenes and has allowed the creative writers of the RSBandB community to use their talents for the good of the site. Released monthly the Informer contains a mix of articles about RuneScape, tech and recently has diversified to include general gaming as well.
The second half of 2006 was a busy time once again for RSBandB, in September the Events Crew was launched to help co-ordinate RuneScape events for the community and soon expanded to include general gaming events as well, both console and PC. An early success story of the events crew was the introduction of Skill of the month — launched November 2006 — a competition in which community members sign up and compete to see who can gain the most XP in a randomly chosen skill in a month, this has been a popular community feature and always evokes a strong competitive streak in the community. The winner — along with winners of other forum based RuneScape competitions — is given a pink forum rank for the month following their victory and a customized signature.
The community high scores were released in July 2007 followed by RuneWire in August, the community high scores were coded by Mike and encompass many useful innovative features. RuneWire is the first RuneScape micro-blogging site based on Twitter. This project was in development since March of '07 and was headed up by Shane. This, much like the Update, has attracted a large user base outside of the forum community and has been used extensively since its release.
After the rush of 2005, 2006 and 2007, 2008 was a comparatively slow year on the surface, but behind the scenes as always people were working hard away on new projects, the community was first let in on some of these projects in early 2008 when the content crew was launched. This group is responsible for working on the guides, databases and maps for the site and does a lot of work behind the scenes for the upcoming guides, databases and world maps. These are being worked on extensively to make sure they are of the highest quality.
RSBandB celebrated its 5th Birthday on August 6th 2009 and what a 5 years it has been. The site has grown from a fledgling community to the centre of RuneScape fansite innovation, although not as well known or popular as some of the other major RuneScape fansites nobody can deny that RSBandB is a trail blazer and leads where others can only follow. This is down to the hard work of the staff, and more importantly the owners who's vision, while being shaped by the feedback and opinions of both users and staff, has been an unquestionable success in delivering useful tools and ideas to the RuneScape community.